Academies, Ofsted

Academy order for Sheffield school ‘paused’ as new Ofsted rules announced

Schools seems to be among first to benefit from new Ofsted inspection changes announced earlier today

Schools seems to be among first to benefit from new Ofsted inspection changes announced earlier today

12 Jun 2023, 16:54

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Parent power has pushed back plans to academise Sheffield's last maintained secondary school

Attempts to academise Sheffield’s last-remaining council-maintained secondary have been paused, a move which chimes with new rules announced today as part of an Ofsted inspection shake-up.

King Edward VII School (KES) had been ordered to join a multi-academy trust (MAT) after being rated ‘inadequate’ by the watchdog, including over safeguarding concerns.

Education chiefs had lined up Brigantia Learning Trust to take on the secondary – but the plans were deferred by the government amid a fierce backlash from parents.

But in a letter published today, KES headteacher Linda Gooden revealed regional director Alison Wilson will wait for the results of a follow-up Ofsted visit before deciding whether to go ahead with the forced academy conversion.

This comes just hours after it was announced this morning that academy orders could be ripped up if schools rated ‘inadequate’ mostly over safeguarding issues earn an improved grade in new quicker reinspections.

While the school did have a ‘requirements improvement’ rating for ‘quality of education’ – suggesting safeguarding wasn’t the only issue – it does appear to have benefited from the new rules on pausing academy orders.

Wait begins for new Ofsted

Gooden told parents: “The regional director and her team will await the publication of the final report. This is so they can understand the outcome and detail from the inspection, before considering the next steps in the process.”

Ofsted confirmed this morning that it will overhaul its complaints procedure, conduct earlier re-visits for schools failed on safeguarding and give greater clarity on when inspectors will call.

As part of this, the watchdog said academy orders will continue to be dished out to the few schools rated ‘inadequate’ solely over safeguarding. But the government has committed that no action will actually be taken on it until the re-inspection.

The education secretary will then decide “whether to revoke any academy order issued to the school, or withdraw any warning notice issued to an existing academy”.

Trust had ‘coasting’ schools

Parents launched a campaign to prevent the secondary from joining Brigantia after it emerged two of Brigantia’s five schools are classed as “coasting”.

Following the pushback, Wilson pledged to carry out analysis to ensure KES “is transferred to the most appropriate trust with a strong track record of ensuring pupils receive the highest standard of education”.

But Gooden said the studies – along with other “sponsorship activities” – have also been paused until the new inspection report is published.

“The regional director and her team will continue to work closely with me, and a further conversation will take place, once the final report has been published.”

The latest Ofsted visit took place on Wednesday, May 24. Gooden said the report “will be published within 30 days of the inspection”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said Wilson “will use the new information from the outcome of this visit to inform any further decisions about transferring the school to an academy”.

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